Madeleine police 'seen at two hour lunch'

Madeleine police 'seen at two hour lunch'
7 June 2007
Press Association
Caroline Gammell

Portuguese police working on the Madeleine McCann case have defended their reputation after they were seen enjoying a two hour lunch.

Policia Judiciara (PJ) spokesman Olegario Sousa and Goncalo Amaral, head of the regional PJ, were spotted as Kate and Gerry McCann travelled to Berlin and Amsterdam to appeal for more information about their missing daughter. In Portimao, a town near where the four-year-old was snatched 35 days ago, a diner at fish restaurant Carvi said he recognised the police officials.

'I knew who they were because Mr Sousa has been all over the TV and in the papers,'' he said.

'They asked for the Portuguese TV news to be switched on and sat at the table watching it. It must have been about 2pm. Madeleine's parents had given a press conference in Berlin and they came on the screen.''

The diner said they had what looked like a bottle of white wine and whisky on the table.

'After nearly two hours, two of the party left. Then Mr Sousa left on his own almost immediately afterwards.''

In Berlin, the McCanns said they had initially been frustrated by parts of the investigation but went on to praise efforts of Portuguese officers. Mr McCann said:

'We have no doubts of the desire of the Portuguese police to find Madeleine. 'We have witnessed their efforts first hand and they are working harder than Kate and I.''

Yesterday Mr Sousa said it was up to the individual to decide what he or she ate and drank. Asked if it was acceptable for police to drink alcohol in their lunch break he said:

'I don't know, it is very, very sad but a person's free time is for lunch. That is normal to do.

'The persons are in charge in the day, they are working in the day but they must eat and drink - it is normal.

'I drink what I want to drink when I can drink.''

When it was put to him that he had been seen drinking, he said:

'Have you seen anyone drunk? Have you seen any action deterred by that?''

Philomena McCann, Madeleine's aunt, said such behaviour would not be acceptable in the UK:

'If it were detectives from Scotland Yard there would be absolute uproar.

'But we have to let them to get on with their work because that's all we have to rely on.

'It is a different country and we have to accept the way that they do things and that it is a different culture where they have lunches and siestas but we hope the work is made up at other times.''


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